Ourien Chicken & Cafe on Beamish Street in Campsie offers up a wide Korean menu with Korean fried chicken, stews, pancakes and all of your Korean favourites in a simple setting with friendly service.
It's a Friday night and I'm fighting traffic getting across Sydney. Monica calls while I am driving and between negotiating the cars and buses merging and changing lanes I yell, "I'm driving!" before one of us hangs up. The reason why she is calling is about the Malaysian restaurant we had planned to go to. Despite Ben calling beforehand, the restaurant was only open for takeaway.
Ben quickly comes up with another suggestion: Ourien Chicken & Cafe across the road. Happy to have a tasty option we take a seat and go through the double-sided menu and our eyes immediately lock onto the range of Korean fried chicken on offer. Which brings us to a question: to bone or not to bone? There are four of us this evening: me, Monica, James, Ben and I and the three of us that work in food vote bone-in. "OK you get the bone chicken" offers Ben which makes his boyfriend James very happy as they always get boneless which is Ben's preference. You can get a whole chicken with two types. We order two "dry" ones: snow cheese and original recipe chicken and two marinated varieties of fried chicken: soy garlic and hot pepper.
Complimentary Banchan quickly fills our table and there are six varieties from potatoes, kim chi, peanuts, fish cakes, seaweed and greens. My favourite are the fish cakes and the seaweed but they're all tasty and I like how each Korean restaurant has a different selection. They also give us the sauces to match the dishes as well as pickled daikon cubes and cabbage that go with the fried chicken. Service is very friendly and helpful from the staff. "You let us know if you want more," our waitress says pointing to the banchan smiling.
The first thing to come out is the fried chicken and they lay it out on the table like the most delicious smorgasbord of chicken-y crunchiness. I find that the chicken's deliciousness depends on which piece you get: I grab a smaller piece of the original recipe and it was a cut from the breast so that's quite dry. But grabbing a wing or a rib yields much tastier results. Out of the four the original plain is very good and well seasoned and you may or may not need the chilli dipping sauce.
The snow cheese is too sweet for me especially with its matching sweet, creamy sauce. The soy garlic is sticky and tasty and but my favourite is the hot pepper fried chicken with its sweet, spicy glaze and crunch. It's very moreish and I end up eating a few pieces of the hot pepper chicken.
The marinated raw beef or Yukhoe is like a Korean version of steak tartare with plenty of garlic, nashi pear and seasonings. Yukke tends to be more refreshing than a steak tartare thanks to the crunchy pear but by the same token the seasoning isn't as concentrated due to the pear.
Everyone enjoys the kim chi pancake with pieces of kim chi and chewy texture and crispiness to the edges.
You can get the soups and stews in individual sized bowls or large share pots but given how much we had ordered we went with an individual serve which is actually fine for sharing between four people. I also adore the soft tofu soup where the tofu takes on a creamy, panna cotta-like quality. There's a good amount of seafood in it and this is one of my favourite dishes along with the hot pepper chicken. There's so much food leftover but as people that all hate waste, we pack it all up to take home and enjoy at another time.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you have a favourite banchan? And is it bone-in or boneless chicken for you?
This meal was independently paid for.
185 Beamish St, Campsie NSW 2194
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 11am–9pm, Monday closed
Phone: (02) 9718 8882